Criteria for Filing a Misdiagnosis Lawsuit May 16, 2023.
When you go to the doctor, you have a reasonable expectation that they will use the appropriate tools and methods to diagnose and treat your injury or illness. A misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor fails to diagnose your condition correctly or diagnoses a different condition.
Can you sue a doctor for misdiagnosis? If you or a loved one suffered injuries or illness due to a diagnostic error, you could file a misdiagnosis lawsuit to recover financial damages. To pursue damages in a medical malpractice or wrongful death claim, you should understand the criteria, legal considerations, and steps for filing a misdiagnosis lawsuit.
Understanding Misdiagnosis Lawsuits
A misdiagnosis case is a form of medical malpractice litigation focusing on a medical care provider’s erroneous diagnosis. A competent doctor knows how to use diagnostic tools and methods to correctly diagnose and treat a patient.
Unfortunately, studies show that diagnostic errors are the most common and expensive medical errors. They are also the most dangerous, resulting in more severe injuries and deaths than other types of medical malpractice, such as drug errors, surgical mistakes, and defective medical equipment. Medical malpractice lawsuits for misdiagnosis are typically due to missed, incorrect, or untimely diagnoses.
Since medical treatment assumes a correct diagnosis, an incorrect or missed diagnosis may not allow you to receive proper treatment. A diagnostic error could cause your condition to worsen or create costly and dangerous complications. As a result of your worsening condition, you may undergo treatments or surgery you would not have needed if the doctor had made the correct initial diagnosis.
If diagnosed with an incorrect condition, you could also receive treatments you do not need, which can be expensive and harmful to your health. Unnecessary treatments, such as medicine, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgical procedures, are often costly and invasive. When such treatments are unnecessary, you could suffer significant long-term health effects, disfigurement, disability, and even death.
Sometimes, a medical condition, such as aggressive cancer, may require a prompt diagnosis to prevent it from becoming untreatable. A negligent medical professional who fails to use proper diagnostic criteria can create a delayed diagnosis that results in the patient's wrongful death.
Commonly Misdiagnosed Conditions
When a doctor sees patients day in and day out, they may not be as rigorous in their diagnostic procedures as they should be. Sometimes, a patient may present with symptoms that apply to multiple conditions, and the doctor may make assumptions that lead to an incorrect diagnosis.
Commonly misdiagnosed conditions include:
- Congestive heart failure
- Renal failure
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
Any misdiagnosis can have serious physical, psychological, and financial consequences. When that malpractice is due to a medical provider's negligence, you can seek compensation for your losses through a medical malpractice misdiagnosis claim.
Establish a Medical Malpractice Claim
To file a medical malpractice lawsuit for misdiagnosis, you must be able to establish malpractice in the following ways:
Provide Evidence of the Doctor-Patient Relationship
You must show that your doctor was the medical care provider who made the erroneous diagnosis. You must have sought professional assistance from the doctor, and they must knowingly have accepted you as a patient. Your medical malpractice lawyer may use appointment schedules, medical records, or invoices for medical services to prove the doctor-patient relationship.
Identify Negligence in Medical Care
Once they accept you as a patient, the doctor has a duty of care to ensure your safety and health within the accepted professional standards for their field. To prove negligence in a misdiagnosis claim, you must show the diagnosing doctor acted outside this standard of care.
A second medical opinion or testimony from medical experts in the same field can help establish whether your doctor was negligent in their diagnosis and treatment.
You must show that the medical care provider's negligence caused or worsened your condition. You may use medical records from before and after the misdiagnosis to show that your condition warranted additional attention or diagnostic procedures.
Similarly, you can use test results, imaging, and other diagnostic documentation to show that the doctor overlooked certain factors or used incorrect diagnostic procedures.
Quantify Damages From Medical Negligence
A medical malpractice lawsuit for misdiagnosis aims to recover monetary compensation for the losses you experienced due to a medical practitioner's negligence. Misdiagnosis lawsuit settlements differ depending on the extent and severity of your losses.
Damages you could seek include:
- Medical expenses for unnecessary procedures
- Medical costs for complications and additional treatments due to delayed diagnosis
- Medical bills associated with corrective procedures
- Medical equipment, medication, and therapy associated with misdiagnosis
- Pain and suffering due to misdiagnosed condition
- Emotional anguish, mental distress, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from misdiagnosis
- Disability, disfigurement, and reduced quality of life due to misdiagnosed condition
- Wrongful death from incorrect or untimely treatment due to misdiagnosis
Quantifying damages in a misdiagnosis lawsuit case can be complicated, so you would benefit from working with a skilled medical malpractice attorney in your area.
The Importance of the Standard of Care in Misdiagnosis Cases
The standard of care is the basis for most medical malpractice misdiagnosis cases. Standard of care is a legal term referring to the customary and reasonable conduct expected of a physician or other healthcare provider in a given field. The standard of care may differ depending on the specific field. For example, an oncologist may have a different standard of care than an ophthalmologist.
To pursue a misdiagnosis claim against a negligent care provider, you must be able to prove that they acted outside the standard of care for the diagnosis and treatment of your condition. For instance, if your doctor disregarded certain symptoms or failed to conduct imaging tests standard for patients with your symptoms, they may have violated the standard of care for their field.
Seek Legal Help for Misdiagnosis Cases
If you or someone you love suffered injuries or illness due to a medical professional's misdiagnosis, you could seek compensation for your losses. The medical malpractice attorneys at Mellino Law Firm can help you understand your legal rights and guide you through the claims process.
Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated medical malpractice lawyer.